Phenomenal Nothingness

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby Positor on July 18th, 2019, 9:40 am 

Please see this poem which I have posted in the 'Positor's Poems' thread. There is a serious philosophical point here: the idea that death is the absolute end for us seems to conflict with the idea that absolute nothingness cannot exist.

From an external viewpoint, there is no problem: when I die, the world simply changes from one that includes me as a living person to one that does not. But from a phenomenological point of view (my own), my death seems to involve either (a) an absolute 'emptying' of my frame of reference, or (b) the absolute termination of that reference frame itself. Either way, this seems to allow absolute nothingness, which (as DragonFly often points out, and I agree) is an illegitimate concept.

One could argue that such nothingness is not really 'absolute', since the world will still exist without me; but that would be to mix frames. I do not think that any frame of reference, considered alone, can become absolutely void or non-existent. Remember, I am talking phenomenology here, not physics (obviously I can, and will, physically die). If we 'bracket' the world (i.e. perform a phenomenological reduction), how can we make sense of the idea of 'our being dead'? Our 'being dead' will be a feature of the world we are supposed to be bracketing, not a phenomenal experience. All of our experience involves our being alive; its totality is like a parallel 'block universe' in its own right.

I wonder what Husserl had to say about this. Do we, in a sense, have 'immortal souls' (with or without recurrent experience)? Can BadgerJelly help here?
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby Lux Aeterna on July 18th, 2019, 10:22 am 

I would say that is some conception of dualism that is as ancient as the world. One cannot exist without the other.
Nothingness would never exist without something that is there.
So you can take life and death, light and darkness, good and evil.
Would you notice that there is a light if you would have not witnessed complete darkness to see it shine through? Would you know there is light when you have never been in complete darkness?
You can only know or even appreciate one thing if you have also known/seen the opposite.

An absolute nothingness can only not exist if there is not something afterwards.

Now you can spin the topic on: When after death there is the absolute end, so there must be something afterwards so that you can know that there is an end ....
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby DragonFly on July 19th, 2019, 3:50 pm 

Existence, having no alternative, needs to be everything, not just some. We are an event in it. If that portion activates again, we return, although it could be said we are ever in it but mostly dormant.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby BadgerJelly on July 21st, 2019, 2:44 am 

I cannot answer for Husserl or “phenomenology” ... I’ll try and express what I think about this later.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby TheVat on July 21st, 2019, 11:19 am 

One could argue that such nothingness is not really 'absolute', since the world will still exist without me; but that would be to mix frames...


Pos,

I don't see why one can't simply say that your frame is simply no longer valid, that it's not meaningful to speak of a phenomenology of a corpse. It's not like there was absolute nothingness before I was born, either. The existence of something before I was born can be transmitted to my phenomenal frame by other people telling me about the past. And so with the future. I can exist in eternity, though "I" am not eternal.



Clever poem!
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby BadgerJelly on July 22nd, 2019, 4:30 am 

It’s hard to understand this in terms of phenomenology. The point of phenomenology is to ‘view’ life as phenomenon/sensory without regard towards existent objects in a concrete physical sense. The concern is with the ‘experience’ only. In term of ‘death’ the experience of ‘death’ is a conceptual one - this is where Heidegger leaned strongly in how he applied ‘language’ to the phenomenological investigation (thus the ‘hermeneutic phenomenology’).

To understand the ‘nothingness’ is kind of a strange thing to consider given that phenomenology isn’t concerned with ‘being’ directly in the phenomenological reduction. The entire point is not to bother with the silliness of something and nothing as oppositional items. They are merely conceptual means of appropriating experience which is necessarily a very difficult problem to cope with as we’re dealing with temporality - something I have a hard time grasping about Husserl and his terminology for dealing with this.

‘Being dead’ is the condition of ‘being alive’. It’s a false dichotomy in phenomenological terms - at least as I understand it. A great many terms we throw around are taken as ‘opposites’ when under further scrutiny this simply isn’t the case and is a habit of language (the reason I steer away from the Heideggerian approach to phenomenology).

I remember reading something about a kind of ‘polar’ contraction by Husserl ... I’ll have to look when I get home next week. Of course, what I say here is clouded by my own views so I am NOT attempting to present a concise phenomenological viewpoint in Husserlian terms. There is something quite trivial about what Husserl was doing that is ignored/missed because it was so seemingly trivial.

Husserl used to ‘preach’ to attend to the obviousness. He was also deeply suspicious of ‘conclusions’.

Anyway, wifi on short cycle ...
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby Positor on July 22nd, 2019, 8:02 am 

Thanks everyone for the replies so far. I will give the matter further consideration.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby charon on July 23rd, 2019, 6:57 am 

Positor -

First-personal experience
Is clearly real for now;
But then, upon our sure demise,
It vanishes – but how?


How do you know it vanishes?
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby Positor on July 23rd, 2019, 9:41 am 

charon » July 23rd, 2019, 11:57 am wrote:How do you know it vanishes?

That was meant as a kind of reductio ad absurdum. How do I know it vanishes? I don't! Indeed, how could it vanish? If phenomenal existence is as real as physical existence, its absolute obliteration would (it seems to me) violate a kind of 'conservation law' – something analogous to a physical conservation law.

I like DragonFly's comment: "...it could be said we are ever in it ['existence'] but mostly dormant". Or maybe not so dormant – we just don't know. All we can do is apply general ontological principles, e.g. any kind of existence cannot be created out of nothing, or absolutely destroyed.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby charon on July 23rd, 2019, 3:24 pm 

Well, that's it, we don't know. Presumably at death we'll find out.

I'm not floating an afterlife, by the way, I'm just asking whether we know what happens. And, apparently, we don't.

Mind you, there are many who claim to know but since they're all still here... :-)
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby Event Horizon on September 24th, 2019, 9:49 pm 

People may well recall my non-existence paradox, that being, Non-existence must exist. I'm not going to go all over that again right now for brevity sake.

I define non-existence, or nothingness, as any part of spacetime devoid of all matter, energy or information.
Pure nothingness is virtually impossible to achieve, so I use representative nothingness to allow for the argument to continue its path.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby charon on September 25th, 2019, 12:31 pm 

That's what I was saying on the other thread. Both nothingness and somethingness exist, it's not either/or (as is implied in the question why is there something rather than nothing).

Both exist, but there's also a state beyond that too, which is quite interesting (and the real answer to the problem).
Last edited by charon on September 25th, 2019, 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby TheVat on September 25th, 2019, 1:03 pm 

I appreciated Badger's earlier comment about not setting up something and nothing as oppositional states, when the concepts are really so deeply intertwined. A void is only defined by what is around it, i.e. something. All "nothing" is defined by the presence of something. Both nothing and something are really just aspects of "thing-ness." Spacetime cannot exist in any meaningful way without matter/energy, because it would just be an empty metric that defines nothing at all. As the physicist John Wheeler said, in his succinct summary of General Relativity, “Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve." Get rid of matter and you simply have that which is undefined. It is a semantic and logical irrelevance.
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Re: Phenomenal Nothingness

Postby charon on September 25th, 2019, 1:27 pm 

Is energy a thing?
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